Thursday, September 7, 2006

oh, the pain

This morning, Daniel was circumcised, and it was one of the harder events I have had to witness in my life. No mother wants to see her baby in pain. I had been dreading this appointment all week, crying and heartbroken, yet rationally knowing my baby would be OK, that most American boys go through this ritual, whether through a religious service or in the hospital or pediatric clinic. (Most parents get it done in the hospital right after the baby is born, but we wanted to wait a couple of weeks and have it done after the trauma of being born was further behind Daniel and he had established a good nursing routine.) I was crying in the examining room when the doctor walked in, and he immediately said, "You don't have to do this, you know." But I had agreed to let Steve take the lead on this decision, and he felt pretty strongly about having it done, so I swallowed my tears and handed Daniel over. Afterward, I think Steve was shaken up by the whole thing, too. But he didn't waver, no matter how hard it was for him to watch his son in pain, knowing he could not protect him from it.

Daniel is sleeping right now, thank God. It is hard for me to listen to his cries. It's hard to write about what it was like, much less think about it. (Geez, I would not make a very good doctor!) They took off all his clothes and strapped his little legs down to a molded-plastic board. They wrapped a thick blanket tightly around his torso so his arms were completely trapped underneath. He was totally helpless. The doctor showed us how to dip a piece of cloth in a jar of sugar water and let Daniel suck on it throughout the procedure, and that ended up being my role — keeping the sugar water rag soaked.

I tried not to watch the procedure. I kept my eyes on Daniel's face, only averting them occasionally to see the long needle enter the base of his penis to anesthetize him, his bloody foreskin being cut away from the rest of the penis, pulled up, gathered together and held with a safety-pin, and finally cut off. What surprised us was that they cut so much off. "I thought they would only nip a tiny part of the tip off," Steve said. Instead, it seems like half his penis is red and raw. (We're supposed to keep it covered with Vaseline for the next 24 to 48 hours.) I asked the doctor about it; he said as Daniel grows, the rest of his penis will grow, and the circumcised part will be smaller in comparison.

Ugh. Now he's awake and screaming (and I need to go feed him). I think he will be OK after a day or so, but right now it must be unbearable for him. He has no way of knowing the pain will go away. It must be so confusing for him. *Sob.*

But the worst is over now. Hopefully, he will never have to go through this again. And neither will his mama.


liz said...

Oh, wow. I'm so sorry, Em. That sounds like such a scary and painful experience for all three of you. I'm sure it is not any easier knowing he is going to be okay, but... he will. And so will you. :)

*hugs* I'm thinking of you. (And by the way, I have a gift ready to go for you - it's been waiting to be mailed for a week! Shame on me!)

Ellen said...

Ew! I wouldn't have thought either that they cut so much off. It's best to have it done as early as possible. Have you guys set a baptism date? When will you get to show him off at church and to your coworkers?

Susanne said...

Em, how long did the procedure take? Remember Em, this is something they've done since bible times. Every male character in the gospels would have been circumsized.

I completely appreciate how hard this was for you. But remember even Jesus was circumsized, with no anesthetic! And now at least you don't have to wonder if you should have done it.

I feel you made the right choice.

LutherLiz said...

Wow, that would be tough to watch and put my child through. Still there are benefits and he won't remember a thing and will be fine. Still, I'm sorry for you (and Daniel too, poor guy). He'll heal quickly though.

Missy said...

Oh no, Em, I probably shouldn't have read this. When Alex was circumsized, it was in the hospital. They normally do it away from the parents, but I told Mitch it was his duty to go --- like you and Steve, I wasn't as sold on it but Mitch was dedicated to getting our son circumcized. Well, Mitch said it was hard to watch, but he didn't give me any details. Which was much easier on me. Now I could just cry thinking of how it went for Daniel and imagining my son being strapped down like that. AH!

For what it's worth, the circ healed very quickly, although we did keep putting vaseline on it for a few extra days to make sure it was ok. Did your doc give you any instructions about pulling the skin back at diaper changes? Ours never did, until at one of our appointments we found out it was adhering and there was another nasty procedure we had to go through. :( It continues to be a struggle, but the doc said that we can finally stop worrying about it and it will all end up in the right place when he grows up and starts having erections. :|

Kerry said...

Your story makes me very glad we got it done at the hospital and that I wasn't involved in the actual procedure. Daniel will recover (probably much more rapidly than you) very quickly I am sure. At least this is over with now and you can just go on loving him.

Cathy said...

You are braver than I am -- I haven't managed to bring myself to watch any part of the circumcisions! But it does heal fast and it doesn't seem to bother the babies after the initial procedure. I just caught up on Daniel's adorable pictures (I love the angry, coneheaded baby one) and all that happened to bring him into the world. He is so beautiful, and I'm happy the breastfeeding and everything is working out.